By Chris Lee
Today’s consumers are overwhelmed with media, content and ads. With consumers spending an average of seven hours online a day, businesses need to be smarter if they hope to stand out from the crowd. This is the view of John Cheney, CEO of business software developer Workbooks.com, whose company recently ran a survey on small business Google AdWords success and found that a huge 82 per cent were not making enough sales to cover the cost of advertising or not knowing at all.
Does search engine advertising actually work for small businesses? Here, Cheney outlines his five top tips for helping UK small businesses get the most out of their online advertising spend.
Challenge your marketing team
Challenge your employees, especially those who handle marketing, to take a broader view of online advertising and ask them to justify the spend. Action must be taken immediately if return on investment (ROI) drops.
“Any aspect of your business which fails to realise that ‘profit and sales are king’ is clearly misdirected,” Cheney told NMK. “The marketing side of your business may be pleased with a number of click-throughs to the company’s website from Google, but what truly matters is how many of those click-throughs convert into sales.”
Find technology that works for your business
The key is to find the right technology that works in conjunction with your online campaign and helps your overall business objectives, according to Cheney. Google AdWords offer basic tools and advice for small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) trying to get the most from their online advertising budgets, but to have an edge on the competition businesses need to do more.
“Cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) software can provide businesses with a quick and easy way to track ROI and see if the leads generated actually convert to sales,” he added. “Many of these options are specifically tailored for SMEs with limited budgets and offer advice and support for start-ups.”
Learn and adapt
“If your company’s current plan isn’t working – do something about it,” Cheney said. “There is a whole host of software, services and advice out there and so to stay complacent is just foolish. It’s not necessarily about getting it right the first time, but rather it’s about getting it right in the long term. No two businesses are the same, each with varying and different requirements, cash flow and needs. Similarly, an organisations approach to online advertising campaigns should not be seen as ‘one size fits all’.”
Review your marketing campaigns
Cheney advises that SMEs take a critical eye to their current online campaigns and tweak them to gain better results. Spend should also be watched closely.
“By reorganising your online advertising campaigns you can increase efficiency, save money and get a better ROI,” he added.
The battle with ROI from online advertising is something that Workbooks.com has struggled with as well. Last year it spent £36,000 on Google AdWords which generated around 13,000 unique visitors to its website. While this is a fair amount of traffic, the team calculated that the company made sales of just £5,000; making it by far the worst performing marketing activity.
In response, Workbooks.com changed where it was spending money. The business looked at other options, like investing in PR and an SEO specialist to improve its visibility.
Cheney said that Workbooks.com now receives around one and half times its investment with Google, which he says “isn’t fantastic but is certainly a significant improvement”.